13 ways to deal with digital overload
Nowadays, the scale of our digital usage is quite frightening. Over one-fifth of us spend more than 40 hours - more than the average working week - on our devices across seven days and, on average, we look at our phone five times an hour. That may or may not be surprising to you, however, it certainly can't be good for us.
We can feel trapped, stressed, constantly available and expected to be so. In fact, fairly recently I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed by technology in terms of its ever presence.
From a business perspective, I have a separate mobile phone with texts, calls, voicemails and all avenues of social media - Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook providing possible incoming traffic and news feeds. Personally, I have a different phone with, again, Facebook feeds, WhatsApp, calls, texts, messages and when we add in social media messages and contact and more, it's no wonder I was feeling the strain. Ever present, quick, efficient and multi-channelled, it's scary to be at the mercy of so much so fast.
Our lives in our hands
Factor in also our smart devices being our alarm clock, calendar, online booking system, dictionary, professional life, shopping trip, calculator, spell checker, note planner, heating programmer, music system, camera, encyclopaedia, dating and potential partner finder, events coordinator, group chat facilitator and main contact with the world and each other, wow, our phone certainly gives us pretty much everything. But, at what price?
Whilst there are many advantages to digital, there are clearly some disadvantages:
- We are forgetting how to remember things.
- We have lost speed and ability in basic maths and calculations.
- We are losing our sense of personal judgement.
- Our phone is our best friend.
- Our second best friend is Google.
- Our brain is processing information differently.
- We are losing our sense of self and identity.
- We are forgetting how important it is to communicate face to face.
- We are forgetting to communicate face to face!
- We aren't so good at focusing on just one thing.
- We are easily distracted.
- We are indoors more.
- Our grammar and spelling are deteriorating.
- We are forgetting to think for ourselves.
- We are losing focus on the task we are doing.
- We've forgotten how lovely it is to write or receive a letter, an invitation, a birthday or other card through the post.
- We only go where there is Wi-Fi.
- We've lost confidence in our ability or knowledge.
- We are using emojis to relay our emotions.
- We've forgotten how important our own emotions are.
- We can't talk about how we feel so well.
- We don't know how we feel!
- We are comparing ourselves to others.
- We only want to look selfie-good.
You might not agree to all of these points, however, perhaps it is food for thought.
Having subsequently spent some time away from digital and having also considered how I can continue to build regular breaks into my life, here are my actions and some suggestions that might work for you.
13 ways to deal with digital overload
1. Do not take your phone to bed. Go with your teddy bear, partner, book, furry friend, journal or hot water bottle instead. Switch your phone off and leave it in a separate room. Take yourself, your mind and knowledge and unwind by reviewing your day, reflecting on aspects of loveliness and success.
2. Don't allow your phone to be the first thing you look at in the morning. Task yourself with spending at least the first hour offline.
3. Switch your phone off when it's charging up.
4. Take two or three lots of time, 20-30 minutes each, to respond to all the people who have been in touch. This is often more helpful then responding every time someone contacts us.
5. Stop scrolling on social media or news feeds.
6. Dare to be different on public transport and read a book instead.
7. Reduce your contracted data allowance.
8. Decide and stick to not looking at your phone whilst you're having a conversation/meet up/coffee/lunch with a friend.
9. Buy and use a paper-based diary.
10. Have a technology-free three-hour period at least daily.
11. Connect with how you feel, how you really feel.
12. Do not multitask using your phone. Do only one thing at a time.
13. Learn to leave your phone at home. It may well be a work in progress. Keep going!
Whilst technology brings so many advantages and there's no disputing that, digital downtime might just give us a better sense of being or calm or self and surely from time to time, that's worth exploring.
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